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History of technology in home videogames
Transcript of History of technology in home videogames
Magnavox Odyssey (Magnavox 1972), Atari 2600 (Atari, 1977) & Intellivison (Mattel, 1980).
The state of the market is at an interesting point, the ninth generation of consoles are about to hit the market. Future trends can be taken from the advances in the music and video markets. It is not hard to imagine that the industry is building to a predominately digital distribution model in the distant future. It also is believable that gaming will shift from downloading the entire game to a hard drive to streaming from an internet connection, much like music services ‘Spotify’ or movie streaming services ‘Netflix’. That is a long term model and will require internet connections which can cope with that kind of load.
The second screen experience that is being pushed this coming generation will only become more integral to the experience as tablet and smart phone proliferation continues to rise. The smarter technology and mass media integration will only continue as the gaming console continues its push to become the one stop station for lounge room supremacy.
EDUC 1018 Assignment 1
A report by Ethan Slegers
Interactive entertainment has risen in prominence over the last 50 years. From being an idol past time to the competing with Hollywood blockbuster’s for the family’s entertainment dollars. The video gaming industry is an industry completely beholden to technology. Its generational cycle makes it stand as an interesting analysis piece, as major technological and design grounds are broken every time. This report will take place over the entire home console gaming timeline. Whilst providing a detailed look at the design choices that have had the most impact over the industry.
A documentation of the changes in interactive entertainment
The 2D eras of the late 80s and early 90s was a time of increasing detail, the successive leaps in technology allowed for more detail and richer soundtracks. This was also the era two of the biggest players would step into the arena in Nintendo and Sega, who would be decade long rivals. It was the arrival of 3D that would really push along the industry.
The Third Dimension
The move to three dimensional graphics was seen as a huge step forward at the time, making its debut in 1995 Sony’s Playstation made waves in the industry. Bringing arcade quality experiences and putting them in the front of the consumer’s living room. But the move to 3D required some important technological and design challenges to overcome.
The early generations were primarily responsible for some enduring technologies. They joystick is still relevant in gaming today, most notably in arcades rather than the home console market.
First and Second Generations
Playstation (Sony, 1995), Sega Saturn (Sega, 1995) & Nintendo 64 (Nintendo, 1996)
Across 1999-2001 all the major players released new hardware, the move towards consoles being online devices were introduced in their infancy, along with revisions to storage media (mostly the movement from CDs to the new DVD format) helped the push towards them becoming true multimedia devices.
Dreamcast (Sega, 1999), Playstation 2 (Sony, 2000), Xbox (Microsoft, 2001) & Gamecube (Nintendo, 2001).
Xbox 360 (Microsoft, 2005), Playstation 3 (Sony, 2006) & Wii (Nintendo, 2006)
The multimedia push.
Wii U (Nintendo, 2012), XboxONE (Microsoft, 2013) & Playstation 4 (2013)
2012 marked the beginning of the 8th generation of consoles with the arrival of the Wii U. In a few short months Microsoft and Sony will both be releasing their new consoles before year’s end. All three have a shared focus on what is being dubbed the second screen experience. By including interactivity via their tablet, smart phone or specialty device for the console’s themselves.
Second Screen Experience
In 2006 saw the beginning of a number of technologies which would revolutionise the market. Nintendo released what would be the flagship console of the era sales wise. It achieved this on the back of a reinvention of the way games were played. Previously gaming was a rather static affair, what Nintendo did was create a console which had movement as a primary control mechanism. This revolution required new technology, the consoles controller was marked the fusion of a controller with motion tracking technology.
Inside the 'Wiimote' (Nintendo, 2006) was an accelerometer to read the speed and infa-red technology which communicates with the a 20cm sensor bar which sits atop the television set.
This fusion of movement made up for the console's relative lack of computing power in comparison to its direct competition. The system’s runaway success paved the way for Microsoft and Sony introducing their own movement based peripherals for their consoles in Kinect (Microsoft) and Move (Sony).
The 'Wiimote' in action (Nintendo, 2006)
Prior to the Playstation’s launch in 1995, the format for releasing games was exclusively through the ‘cartridge’. The move to 3D demanded more space and more efficient methods for storage. Sony’s solution to this problem was to move from the common place cartridge based system to the compact disc as its proprietary system. This opened up higher fidelities of audio to be layered into the experience and faster relaying of information.
The need for a new format
With Microsoft’s first foray into gaming, they brought over a number of ideas from their computing based background. The most notable one of these was the inclusion of an 8 gigabyte hard drive in every Xbox console sold. This was revolutionary at the time because the previous capacity maximum was a paltry 8 megabyte memory card for Sony’s Playstation 2. This opened up new entertainment options, allowed the Xbox to rip compact discs to soundtrack their gaming experiences. Whilst combining with their flagship online service to provide downloadable games and other content.
When you combine the online service with the hard drive space there was one service that has shaped gaming hence forth. The ability to alter and tinker with video games via patches. This development has allowed developers to fix bugs and glitches in their products which often don’t get picked up until post release. This seemingly small change actually has been one of the most significant advancements of the medium.
The move to 3D created new challenges for design teams to overcome. Game developers were finding that the directional pad, which had been the staple control method for controlling player movement, was simply not accurate enough for the complexities of three dimensional movements. The answer to this conundrum was the analog stick, first debuting on home consoles on the Nintendo 64 controller in 1996. Such was the advancement that Sony revamped their controller in 1997 adding twin analog sticks and controller vibration which would end up becoming the standard convention in all home consoles hence form, barring one very notable exception in the Nintendo Wii in 2006.
The need for greater movement
The Nintendo 64 controller (1997), the central analog stick was revolutionary at the time
Sony's original Playstation controller (pictured left (1995) & its successor, the dual analog 'Dual Shock' controller
Nintendo Entertainment System (Nintendo, 1985), Sega Master System (Sega, 1995), Sega Genesis (Sega, 1989) & Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Nintendo, 1990).
With the launch of the Sega’s Dreamcast in 1999 (pictured above), the online world the internet was an instrument previously excluded from the home console market. The idea of connecting your home console to the internet predated internet equipped phones and other such devices. It changed the way people played their games as the only way to play your games console against others previously was to have them all sitting in front of the same screen. It is connection that would only strengthen over the next decade.
Promotional material for Sony's 'Remote Play' second screen feature for the upcoming Playstation 4 (Sony, 2013)
Sony's Playstation Move controller (Sony, 2009)
The 'sensor bar' from the Nintendo Wii (Nintendo, 2006)
The Xbox 360 coupled with 'Kinect' (Microsoft, 2010)
Sony's Playstation 2 launched with DVD playback out of the box (Sony, 2000)
Engineer Ralph Baer who has been described as ‘the father of video games’ and his associates created a console prototype called the ‘Brown Box’ a primitive system with no sound which would go on to be released as the Magnavox Oddysey in 1972.
Ralph Baer playing the original 'Brown Box' in 1969
The Atari 2600
The Magnavox Odyssey (Magnavox, 1972)
The advancement in graphical fidelity from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
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